Scotland set for world first with autonomous bus service

A self-driving passenger bus trial in Scotland will take passengers across the Forth Road Bridge.

Described as a world first, the UK Government-funded trial will see five autonomous single-deck vehicles running between Edinburgh and Fife but regulations mean a driver will remain on board during all journeys.

Funding of £4.35 million was awarded by the UK Government through Innovate UK with additional investment from operator Stagecoach, Transport Scotland and other organisations.

Once complete, the ADL Enviro200 vehicles will operate between Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange.

Buses will operate on-road and using the hard shoulder, as well as using the dedicated public transport corridor across the Forth Road Bridge.

The autonomous services will be capable of carrying up to 42 passengers for the 14-mile journey, with buses running every 20 minutes.

Work on the project is expected to get underway during the second quarter of next year, with services operating from 2020.

Scotland’s Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The deployment of these vehicles in Scotland will bring transformative change to the way we travel and work, as well as having a positive impact on the economy, the environment and safety.

“This collaborative trial, using one of the country’s most iconic transport corridors, shows Scotland is very much open for business in this innovative sector.

“I very much welcome the strong Scottish contingent in the bid team and I look forward to following this project with great interest.”

In the short-term, buses will be used in autonomous mode only within the depot environment, to carry out movements such as parking and moving into the fuelling station and bus wash.

Using self-driving vehicles within depots more widely could help improve safety, efficiency and space utilisation within the depot.